Book Review: The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry

Author: Rachel Joyce

Publisher: Random House, July 2012

Genre: Literary Fiction

My Rating: A

It is a real pleasure to once again read a book whose character are interesting, lively, and sympathetic retirees. No stereo-typical “senior citizens” in this novel. Thank goodness, the author realizes people are people no matter what their age. Twenty-somethings can read and identify with the characters as easily as seventy-somethings. Now that’s good storytelling.

Here’s the shortened version of the publisher’s description of the book:

“Harold Fry is recently retired. He lives in a small English village with his wife, Maureen, who seems irritated by almost everything he does, even down to how he butters his toast. Little differentiates one day from the next. Then one morning the mail arrives, and within the stack of quotidian minutiae is a letter addressed to Harold in a shaky scrawl from a woman he hasn’t seen or heard from in twenty years. Queenie Hennessey is in hospice and is writing to say goodbye.

Harold pens a quick reply and, leaving Maureen to her chores, heads to the corner mailbox. But then, as happens in the very best works of fiction, Harold has a chance encounter, one that convinces him that he absolutely must deliver his message to Queenie in person. And thus begins an unlikely pilgrimage. Harold Fry is determined to walk six hundred miles from Kingsbridge to the hospice in Berwick-upon-Tweed because, he believes, as long as he walks, Queenie Hennessey will live.”

The story is told with incredible insight into the hearts and memories of Harold and Maureen. It’s also told with humor. As Harold walks he meets some great characters. It made me think of this book as another version of a great road-trip book. I was also reading On the Road by Jack Kerouac at the same time. It turned out to be a ood comparison.

About the Author:

You won’t believe it when you read it, but The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry is the author’s debut novel. But she is no stranger to good storytelling. She’s written over twenty plays for BBC Radio. She’s also been an actress for the Royal Shakespeare Company. She makes her home in Britain, in Gloucestershire. She’s currently woriing on her second novel. That’s a good thing, since I definitely want to read mroe of this new author.


The publisher is generously offering a free copy of The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry to one of my readers. (US only, no PO numbers.) Please let me know of your interest in the comment section. I’ll close the give-away one week from now.

Thanks so much to TLC Book Tours and the publisher for my review copy of this book. To see more opinions about this book you can find the tour schedule here: TLC Book Tours

18 comments to Book Review: The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry

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